“Did you sleep well?” he asked concerned
“Yes I did.”
“How are you feeling now?”
“I’m much better. Please don’t worry,” she said, her voice soft
“How can I not worry? I am your son.”
“Son?” she asked confused.
“You must go and rest. You just got discharged from the hospital yesterday,” he continued ignoring her question.
“Yes, but I told you I have rested. I have been resting since a week.”
“A week. Yes. It had me worried. If something happened to you, how would I live?”
“I told you not to worry. I am fine. But I am not your mother and you’re not my son.”
“I understand you are angry with me for not staying by your bedside. I wanted to stay with you in the hospital but Bill wouldn’t hear of it. He said a lady would sleep with you in the room and that she would take care of you. Did she not?” he asked raising his voice; the crease between his brows deepened.
“Yes she did. She is Bill’s wife.”
“Bill’s wife? When did he marry?” He scratched his head like a child searching for an answer to a Math problem.
“A few years’ ago,” she answered, tired of the torrent of questions hurled in her direction. The problem she had in her lungs left her feeling fatigued. Age, years of managing home and poor health had taken a toll on her. She was exhausted.
“I am hungry. Will you cook today? I do not like what the new helper makes,” he said breaking her train of thoughts.
“But you just had your supper – an hour ago. You cannot be hungry so soon. You do know I just got out of the hospital. The Doctor’s advised me to take rest. ”
“Why am I so hungry then?” he asked, perplexed. “Ah yes. You are unwell. You must take rest. In that case I shall go for a walk.”
“It’s too dark for you to go out for a walk at this time. I cannot worry for you while you’re gone. ”
“No. It’s not. I want to go for a walk! I am a grown man now. You don’t need to worry. I am not your little child anymore” His tone was firm. She felt her energy had depleted. There was none left to argue.
“Fine then. Go ahead. But who will take care of me?”
“Umm…,” he stammered and paused while putting on his shoes. Back straight, he walked out of the living room and sat down on the reclining chair outside.
The sky was a blue-black. The moon a thin crescent was barely visible. The smell of the night jasmine filled the air. He closed his eyes. There were Bill and Ben. They were playing soccer. He was the goal-keeper. And standing in the distance was Jane in a floral dress as beautiful as the day they married sixty years’ ago. I miss you Jane. A tear rolled down his bony cheeks.
She watched him from the living room and then after a while headed to the bedroom. Returning with a Pashmina shawl – a gift he’d given her on their twentieth anniversary – she walked into the porch where he sat with his eyes closed. Bending her petite figure, she draped the shawl over him.
He opened his eyes. His face lit up as he let out a sigh of relief. “Jane, why did you leave me? I missed you so much,” he spoke clutching her hand in a tight grasp.
“Shhh…close your eyes now,” she said, trying to loosen his clasp. Her hands hurt where the veins had been pricked for the drip.
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